The older I get, the more increasingly concerned I’ve grown at the utter lack of concern, empathy and motivation in my generation. Now, of course, there are those among us who succeed at everything they do, who care about the issues confronting society, and who are motivated enough to actually do something about those issues. The problem is, though, that not enough of us have the passion and drive needed to actually make a dent in improving the ills of society.
In today’s world, logic, thought and imagination are forced aside in order to make room for our consumer culture. We have moved away from a society of empathy and of intellectual thought toward one full of “reality” television, celebrity worship, consumerism, and blind following of propaganda in order to ignore the true issues confronting us.
This obsession with celebrities and uber-consumerism has caused us to move away from the written word, away from critical-thought processes and away from any form of uniqueness. It has led to a generation that can be referred to only as the “Whatever” generation. This attitude, this absolute disregard for the issues confronting our society is, to me and many others, the biggest problem confronting us today. Global warming, the bleaching of coral reefs, melting glaciers, species extinction, America’s growing financial deficit, worldwide economic collapse, sexism, racism, consumerism, homophobia, overpopulation, depletion of natural resources, religious fanaticism, government corruption — all of these are important issues that society must confront, yet it seems that none is more important than the sobering fact that most of the population, especially America, don’t care.
Even worse is that there seems to be no way to change this trend. Every day, people are subjected to an onslaught of propaganda that reinforces this complacency and escape from reality. Our consumer culture is powerful. Advertisers and those in power are constantly trying to sell us a lifestyle. They tell us what food to eat, what music to buy, what clothes to wear and what ideology to adopt, but we are rarely told to think and discover these things for ourselves. The arts have been degraded to fashion, math and science have become something “just for the dorks,” literature has been replaced by magazines like Us and People (touting facts about this or that celebrity’s love life), all in the name of keeping the population in line with the interests of those in power and creating a homogenized society that is easier to control and manipulate. The inane has become the mainstream, and the intelligent of society — the thinkers, the doers, the innovators — have been reduced to something “outside,” something strange and different, something that must be either eradicated or ignored.
And where do we go from here? When those of us who consider ourselves thinkers and doers have so little a voice, so little influence on those around us, how do we persuade and motivate the rest of society to take action and come out of this fantasy world that has been manufactured for us? If we speak louder, if we confront society with reality, then we are written off as downers or conspiracy theorists. Yet if we keep quiet, then we are no better than those who have never questioned the state of the world at all, and no progress can be made. It is in this catch-22, this trap, where so many lose the will to fight and succumb to the slobbering couch potato that has been pressed on all of us. I can only hope that the few of us left who have yet to give in can hold on to our rationality, our imagination and our individuality for long enough to make a dent in the world of fantasy that has taken so many.